Workers were filling sacks with rice at Golden Rice (Cambodia) Co. LTD, Drapeng village Ou Dong district Kompong Speu Provice. Photograph: Sam Rith/Phnom Penh Post
New body to boost exports, stop infighting
A NEW organisation for rice exporters was launched in Cambodia this weekend in an effort to transform the industry as it seeks to meet ambitious export targets.
The Federation of Cambodian Rice Exporters (FCRE) was inaugurated on Saturday, and says it will gain full authorisation from the government to deal with any and all issues within the rice industry.
The Cambodian government issued a milled rice export policy in June 2010 which aims to see the Kingdom export one million tonnes of milled rice by 2015. However, the industry faces a host of problems, such as a shortage of funds to buy paddy rice from farmers, a lack of milling capacity, high electricity and transportation costs and industry infighting, leading to stunted export growth.
Data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance showed Cambodia expected to export 250,000 tonnes of milled rice by the end of this year. However, at the end of October, exports had only reached about 150,000 tonnes, data from the Single Window Office, the institution handling milled rice exports, showed.
Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, who presided over the launch ceremony, said the federation will gain the full support of the government and will work with it to deal with all issues over the export of milled rice.
“The FCRE is the only partner in the rice industry authorised to discuss issues with the government,” he said.
Cambodia has a number of milled rice associations, leading to inter-association disputes. However, Cham Prasidh said all of the organisations will mainitain their authorisation to export milled rice.
He also warned that associations which do not become members of the FCRE will lose their right to talk to the government on export issues.
“They have to understand that being part of the federation will give them the greatest benefit,” he said. “[By being part of the federation] we
won’t ban them from exporting if they have issues. They cannot talk directly to me, they have to go through the federation,” he added. “I will keep working on this in order to force them to become members because it is easier for one federation to deal with us,” said Cham Prasidh.
Kim Savuth, the newly elected chairman of the FCRE, which was first agreed on in June, said that so far 120 companies have registered with the federation: of these only 25 are rice millers, the rest are companies in milled rice export-related fields, such as logistics.
He said the federation is a non-profit institution and will play the role of facilitator between the private sector and the government.
Cham Prasidh said he is optimistic the federation will speed up progress toward the one million tonne goal. “Our exports will accelerate in years to come because we have the federation,” he said. “Later on, we can accept big export contracts by cooperating with all members – suppliers and processors,” he added.
Kim Savuth agreed that the federation will play a crucial role in building the country’s capacity to export a large amount of milled rice abroad, adding that the FCRE will also try to eliminate disagreements among domestic rice millers.
“We can be a strong internal power to negotiate with foreign buyers when we have the federation, so we can secure very big deals, beyond anything we’ve ever done before,” he said.
In late August, Cambodia signed a deal to export 100,000 tonnes of milled rice to Indonesia. At the same time, China also agreed to import 300,000 tonnes per year from Cambodia.